How can I get rid of malware that I think got installed on my system?

Episode 931

Laurie from Los Angeles, CA

Laurie downloaded some tax documents from and now she's having a variety of problems on her computer. Leo says that is a legit site, but it's possible their website got hacked or a malformed PDF was installed onto the site. The strange tool bar in her browser is a bad sign.

Laurie could get someone to remove it (and she's tried), but it's likely there's other stuff going installed and going on as well. So the only way to really be sure is to back up the data, format the hard drive, reinstall Windows from a known, good source, and run updates.

What's the best free AntiVirus software?

Episode 925

Mike from Corona, CA

Leo recommends Microsoft's Security Essentials, which is free.

Mike also noticed that his laptop has slowed down over time. Leo says that over time, Windows can suffer from "bit rot." The easiest way to fix it is to back up his data, then format the hard drive and restore the OS from the recovery disks to the way he got it when he bought it. Then he should make sure to run Windows updates.

Was I the victim of a computer scam?

Episode 924

Terry from El Cajon, CA

Terry responded to a pop-up from someone who used remote access to get into his computer. Leo says that is a complete scam and it's likely that a they've infected his computer with viruses and maybe even key loggers to monitor activity on the computer. They even tried to charge him for this. Leo advises that he talk to a computer store in his area. Then have them backup his data and reinstall Windows. He can run a scanner such as the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool by clicking Start, selecting "Run", typing MRT and hitting enter.

Will my new laptop be able to upgrade to Windows 8?

Episode 915

Bobby from San Bernadino, CA

Absolutely. It may cost about $15 for the upgrade, but any computer made from the last few years will be able to go up to Windows 8.

Bobby also just bought a "lifetime" subscription to Viper AntiVirus. Leo says that AVS companies are going lifetime subscriptions now to get the most money out of you since Windows 8 will ship with an AVS for free later this year, and most people won't buy a subscription ever again. But even so, $90 for three computers isn't too bad at all.

Why is Avast telling me I have a virus, despite having reinstalled Windows to fix it?

Episode 905

Bob from Pennsylvania

Leo says that Avast may be giving Bob a false positive, which isn't unlikely, especially with free AVS software. If he wants a free antivirus, he should dump Avast and go with Microsoft Security Essentials. He could also download Microsoft Windows Defender. He can even make a bootable USB key or CD and then run it independently to scan his entire hard drive.

Why can't I get internet access on my laptop despite it showing it's connected?

Episode 903

Sam from Garden Grove, CA

Sam has tried replacing drivers, restarting the router and modem and even bypassing the router and connecting directly to the modem. Leo concludes that there's something wrong with software on the laptop, and is most likely a Windows issue. He says it could either be security software that's blocking the connection or a virus that's doing it. Leo first recommends disabling his McAfee antivirus. It could be that the antivirus is being overzealous and is cutting out wireless activity.

Why am I still getting viruses despite having Vipre antivirus?

Episode 899

Jerry from Florida

Jerry has an anti virus utility called Vipre, but he still keeps getting viruses. Leo says Vipre isn't very good and recommends ESET Nod 32 for Windows. He should first take Vipre off, and then install NOD32. It's the best security software Leo knows of (Disclaimer: ESET is a sponsor). The best free AVS is Microsoft's Security Essentials.

My Ukranian webmaster says there's a conspiracy with ESET blocking the site. What's going on?

Episode 898

Mike from Sylmar, California

Leo thinks this site has been compromised, and the webmaster doesn't know it yet. Most malware comes from the Ukraine, so that doesn't instill much faith that this site is free and safe. Ultimately Mike will have to decide who to trust, but Leo thinks it's safe to side with ESET.

(Disclaimer: ESET is a sponsor).